Criminal Defense

St. Petersburg and Clearwater Attorneys Fighting for Your Freedom and Future

It is stressful being charged with a crime. Many people do not understand their rights and assume that there is a strong case against them if they have been arrested. This is not necessarily true. People charged with any type of offense should retain an experienced St. Petersburg or Clearwater criminal defense lawyer. At Hanlon Law, we understand that our clients' futures are on the line, and we provide personal attention and craft strong defense strategies for them. Will Hanlon is here for people who need a sex crime lawyer or assistance with fighting charges of drug crimes, domestic violence, theft, white collar crimes, firearms offenses, and many other crimes.

Sex Crimes

Many different offenses qualify as sex crimes in Florida, including prohibited sexual misconduct, sexual battery (rape), unlawful sexual activity with minors, sex trafficking, lewd or lascivious offenses, sexual performances by a child, computer pornography, and transmission of child pornography. The prosecution must prove all of the elements of each sex crime charge beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high standard to meet. You should not assume that a conviction is inevitable.

Each type of charge demands a careful consideration of what an appropriate defense would be. In many cases, it is possible to raise a reasonable doubt about one or more elements of a crime. For example, perhaps it is possible to challenge the accuser’s story regarding whether they consented. In other cases, it may be appropriate to introduce exculpatory evidence that calls into question the motivation and credibility of an accuser.

Theft Crimes

Under Florida Statutes § 812.014, theft occurs when someone knowingly uses or gets the property of another person in order to deny that person access to the property or wrongfully use it to their own advantage. It can occur in the context of shoplifting, embezzlement in an employer-employee relationship, or a burglary of a home or store. A theft crime is classified as either petit or grand theft, with the value of the property determining the type of charge. For example, grand theft of the second degree is a second-degree felony and involves stealing belongings that are valued between $20,000 and $100,000. If you are convicted, you would face a maximum of 15 years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

Common defenses that a criminal defense attorney in Clearwater or St. Petersburg might be able to raise in connection with theft charges include obtaining property for a lawful reason, mistake, consent, necessity, or duress. All of the elements of a charge need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, so it may be possible to raise a reasonable doubt about a defendant's intent or show that evidence supporting some other element is deficient. For example, if there is no eyewitness testimony or video surveillance, it can be challenging for the prosecution to show that a loss was because of a specific defendant rather than some sort of error.

Drug Crimes

Drug crimes are prosecuted harshly in Florida. They may involve many different types of controlled substances, including methamphetamine, amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, hallucinogens, and even prescription drugs. A defendant may be charged with possessing, selling, cultivating, manufacturing, or trafficking in a controlled substance. There are two types of drug possession: actual possession and constructive possession. The types of unlawful drugs are listed in five schedules set forth under Florida Statute § 893.03.

Often, a strong defense in a drug case is to challenge the search and seizure that led to the police finding the drugs in question. In order to stop you, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you previously committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime. The suspicion must be more than a hunch and must be based on articulable facts. Police officers must also have probable cause after stopping you to search you. If the police do not follow proper procedures, it may be possible to have the evidence gained from the stop and seizure suppressed. We can also examine whether a diversion program would be appropriate and attack the prosecution's case to see whether we can negotiate a plea bargain. Moreover, St. Petersburg and Clearwater criminal defense attorney Will Hanlon can defend you vigorously should the matter proceed to a trial.

Gun Crimes

Florida criminalizes many different types of gun crimes, including carrying a concealed firearm, improper exhibition of a firearm or dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and discharge of a destructive device. Each crime requires proof of different elements. For example, under Florida Statute § 790.23, possessing a firearm by a convicted felon happens if a convicted felon knowingly possesses, controls, owns, or cares for a firearm. Of importance is whether you actually possessed or constructively possessed the firearm. Actual possession of a firearm occurs when a firearm is in your hand, in a container in your hand, or close enough to be within reach and under your control. However, constructive possession occurs if a firearm is in some place over which you have control or where you concealed it. Actual possession carries a three-year mandatory minimum sentence.

As with other crimes, the police need to follow appropriate procedures and respect your constitutional rights. If your rights are violated or procedures are not followed, it may be possible to have evidence related to a gun crime suppressed. In some cases, it may be feasible to persuade the prosecution that it has a weak case through exculpatory evidence, and in other cases, it is possible to secure an acquittal at trial.

Consult a Skillful Criminal Defense Lawyer in Clearwater or St. Petersburg

If you are charged with any type of felony or misdemeanor in St. Petersburg or Clearwater, you should make sure to hire an aggressive and knowledgeable attorney to defend you against the charges. Will Hanlon is a criminal attorney with over 20 years of experience. He strives to obtain an outcome for his clients that is realistic under the circumstances and allows them to move forward with their lives, whether that is a dismissal, a reduction in the charges, or an acquittal. Contact Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or through our online form to set up a consultation. We also serve people in Newport Richey and Dade City who need a theft attorney or representation in charges involving drug crimes, sex offenses, assault and other violent crimes, firearms offenses, and more.