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Criminal Defense Lawyers Representing Clearwater ResidentS

Once arrested, many people unfamiliar with the criminal justice system will claim that they have been “charged” with a crime. Though there is some truth to the term, it is somewhat misleading to think that criminal proceedings have been initiated simply because you have been arrested. Before proceeding with criminal charges, the prosecuting agency—the Office of the State Attorney—must take formal steps to bring charges against an accused. If you have found yourself in a situation where you have been arrested, but are not sure if charges have officially been filed, you should contact a dedicated Clearwater criminal defense lawyer today.

Police are typically not lawyers, and are not responsible for ultimately prosecuting a case. While it is their job to collect evidence and build a case, it is the job of the State attorney to actually do the legal work and present evidence in court. This is why the specific charges that will be filed are not left up to the police. Once an arrest occurs, the police turn over the evidence they have collected and the reports they have prepared to the State Attorneys Office to make a filing decision.


The most common form of filing formal charges against a defendant is the Information. An Information is, at its most basic form, a document putting a defendant on notice of exactly the charges he or she is facing. Typically, an Information will contain a date of offense, a basic description of the factual circumstances of the crime, and a statute number listing the specific law that the defendant allegedly violated. The Information is filed with the clerk of court and is publicly available to view, and it is provided to the defense during the discovery process.

Much work usually goes into filing an Information. Prosecutors do not always rely solely on the work of the police to determine how they will officially file charges. Often, prosecutors will reach out to witnesses and victims of crimes to determine the overall strength of the case and make a pre-filing evaluation. Prosecutors do this because the standard of proof to convict a person of a crime (beyond a reasonable doubt) is significantly higher than the standard to make an arrest (probable cause). By doing a pre-filing evaluation, prosecutors can determine whether it is even worth it to officially bring charges against a defendant.

The period between an arrest and the formal filing of an Information is an important one. Many times, those accused of a crime wait until they receive a court date to contact a lawyer. This can be a costly mistake. Prosecutors have a good deal of discretion during the pre-filing stage, and if a skilled Clearwater criminal defense lawyer intervenes on your behalf, sometimes the prosecution can be convinced to “no-file” the case, resulting in the dismissal of any criminal charges.

Getting an attorney involved at the early stages of your case, following your arrest but before charges are filed can sometimes make all the difference. Often, prosecutors are happy to work out cases and consider evidence before they make a filing decision. This is because during the filing stage, they are given more discretion to drop, modify or reduce charges. Once charges have been filed and a case initiated, prosecutors have much less discretion on how to handle the case, and are sometimes restricted to litigating the matter all the way to trial.

Before filing of charges, evidence can be presented to prosecutors that can suggest your innocence or that can show the State Attorney that the evidence in their case against you is weak. A savvy Clearwater criminal defense lawyer with relationships and respect among prosecutors can secure positive results on your case before you even end up in court.

Speak to the Lawyers at Hanlon Law Today

If you have been arrested and are awaiting a court date or the official filing of charges, don’t wait to consult a lawyer. Contact the lawyers at Hanlon Law today at 727.897.5413. They have the experience, diligence and relationships necessary to make a difference prior to the formal filing of charges.

Client Reviews
As a practicing attorney, I was shocked to hear that a family member of mine was alleged to have committed a sex crime. Knowing full well the consequences this type of allegation can have on anyone and their future, I immediately reached out to William Hanlon for help... Jerry
Was on the ball. Remembered names, events, places, situations. Never need to re explain the situation. Keeps in touch through out the entire experience and keeps you feeling safe, comforted and protected. Fights hard. Worth every single penny. Would never settle for anything less than Will. Carrie
I was facing a charge that if convicted would carry two years in prison minimally. Not only was he empathetic and listening to what I had to say but he arranged with the prosecutor for my charges not to be filed under terms of a pre trial investigation. Would highly recommend. Alec
I am very happy for what he did for me. Always there when I needed him. Explained everything well. He Fights for his clients. He got me what I needed. Hes an excellent lawyer. Mutaz
Mr. Hanlon did what no other lawyer could do. Not only did he turn my criminal history into a thing of the past so I could move on, he was a loyal associate. No matter how bad the situation is, he has miraculously cleared me on every charge since he became my lawyer 5 years ago. I have the best lawyer that the legal system has to offer. I have had other really good lawyers try to get my business, but I know that no one can do a better job than William Hanlon. Jesse