Criminal Defense

The Arthur Firm, P.L., was originally established as a criminal defense firm. Despite our recent practice area expansion, Arthur Jones remains passionate and skillful at protecting you from government agencies and advocating for you in trial. Matthew Weintraub is a comparatively young lawyer with a tenacity for preparing ways to argue the law and the facts in your favor. Together, we coordinate diplomatic and confrontational strategies for representing you.

We know that many clients want their cases resolved without risking a trial. At The Arthur Firm, we accomplish this by actually preparing for trial as if there really will be a trial and not ”just in case“ there is one. We do so because this approach shifts the bargaining power into your direction and usually makes the plea bargains more favorable to our clients--and so they get to avoid the risk of a trial.

The Arthur Firm starts preparing your case for trial as soon as we are retained. We immediately begin to work to gather your witnesses and evidence, examine and evaluate the government‘s evidence, take all necessary depositions, and conduct relevant legal research. These steps enable us to unveil grounds to file strategic motions and to formulate our trial defense. It is amazing how many cases look quite bleak in the beginning, yet through our skillful trial preparation the likelihood of a conviction drops. And if no plea offer can be obtained which is agreeable to our client, then we are already prepared to present our case in a real trial. Make no mistake, The Arthur Firm is willing to take your case to trial, and will not force you to accept a plea bargain.

A word on customer service: An experienced defense attorney is often capable of preparing a case for trial without having multiple conversations with her client. But failing to communicate properly with a client leaves the client feeling forgotten and less confident in the case. At The Arthur Firm, we do not make this mistake because having our client‘s trust is as important as winning the case. Plus, we simply love to win!

The Arthur Firm does not only handle trials. We will also protect you against pending criminal investigations, or represent you for post-conviction motions, or just one stage in between (Bond Hearings, Arthur Hearings, Sentencing Hearings, Returns of Property, Violation of Probation Hearings). Below is a list of the crimes which are most commonly charged. See also our FAQ‘s on Criminal Defense issues.

Appeals

Appeals are expensive because they are extremely time-consuming. But at The Arthur Firm we put as much passion into our appellate practice as our trial practice. The first step is to file the appropriate documents necessary to invoke your right to appeal. The next step is obtaining a transcript of the trial and any relevant pre-trial hearings. That is when the real fun begins.

Assault & Battery

An Assault (§784.011) is an imminent threat by word or act to do violence to someone combined with an apparent ability to carry through the threat and actual fear caused by the threat. A Battery (§784.03) is an actual and intentional touch or strike against another person without their consent, or an intentional bodily harm caused to another person. The maximum penalty for an Assault is a minor 60 days in jail. For a Battery it is worse but still only a misdemeanor unless the attacker has a prior conviction for Battery.

However, if a weapon is involved the charge can escalate to felony Aggravated Assault (§784.021) or Aggravated Battery (§784.045). Aggravated Battery also applies if the victim is pregnant so long as the attacker knew or should have known of the pregnancy. Chapter 784 also contains separate Battery laws for other types of victims (law enforcement officers, health services personnel, persons over 65 years, sports officials, detainees of a jail, code inspectors, and more) regardless of whether there is an injury. If there is an injury and the act of battery caused (i) great bodily harm, or (ii) permanent disability, or (iii) permanent disfigurement, then the Battery charge becomes a felony.

However, at The Arthur Firm, we know that often times the person arrested was really the one using self-defense; or that the victim was assaulted or battered but is accusing the wrong person; or that the victim‘s story is totally fabricated; or that the touching or striking or harm caused was simply unintentional. Although we may use one of these defenses at trial, we will first test the government‘s evidence against the burden of proof.

Burglary

Although not necessarily as violent or immoral as murder, rape, or robbery, a burglary charge can land you in prison just as quickly because of how many points it scores in sentencing. Burglary (§810.02) is often misunderstood to mean that someone either stole or intended to do so. A burglary is basically a trespass combined with the intent to commit ANY crime (not just theft) while trespassing. There are usually no eyewitnesses to a burglary, and so the evidence is based upon fingerprints or some other forensic evidence. The Arthur Firm has experience in defending against different types of forensic evidence in a way that keeps the jury from putting more faith in them than they should.

Crimes Against Law Enforcement Officers

Florida law reclassifies the penalties for any crime involving physical harm where the victim is a law enforcement officer. For example, a battery is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail. However, if the person who was battered was a police officer, then the crime is called Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer (§784.07) and it gets reclassified as a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The more serious the underlying offense, the more serious the reclassifications become and may include a minimum mandatory.

Here are the two catches: [1] you must have harmed the person knowingly, and [2] the person must have been acting within their lawful duties at the time they were harmed. If the government cannot prove these two elements, then you cannot be convicted of the reclassified charges. Depending on the specific facts of your case, The Arthur Firm‘s attorneys may use one of these catches or an entirely different strategy because we tailor every case to the client‘s actual situation.

Drug Crimes

Drug laws are vast and lengthy. They describe drugs as controlled substances, and list them according to schedules (§893.03). Then, the penalties for Possessing or Possessing With Intent to Sell/Distribute/Manufacture (§893.13) and Trafficking (§893.135) are spelled out for each drug according to which schedule they fall into. The potential prison sentences depend on those schedules and whether it was possessed or sold or trafficked. The prison sentences may also include a minimum mandatory due to the amount in question or due to it being possessed within 1,000 feet of a church, school, park, or a convenient store. Penalties also get worse if there were firearms found at the same time.

However, depending on the specific facts, there are ways to defend against any of those penalties. Many searches are illegal or the warrant is defective or the officers are simply not being truthful. People are often charged with being in ”constructive possession“ of drugs even though they were unaware that the drugs or firearms were present in the car or house. The Arthur Firm can use these or any number of other legal or factual possibilities to defend you against a wrongful conviction or an excessive sentence.

DUI/Driving Offenses

If you are arrested for Driving Under the Influence, your first concern once released on bond is whether to request a DMV hearing to keep your driving privileges while the case is pending in court. These hearings also aid in the preparation of your court case for trial.

When you get to court, the penalties required by law will include a conviction, probation, community service, classes, fines, jail, and driver‘s license suspensions. The amount of money for the fines and court costs mount quickly. The suspensions will interfere with anyone who drives to and from work (or if your job includes driving, you could be fired) or school or to transport their family.

You can avoid all of that by winning your court case through motions or a trial. The Arthur Firm attorneys are experienced at effectively fighting the breath machine and urine or blood results, and at countering DUI ”expert“ police officers with successful strategies and cross examination. We also handle all other driving offenses like Reckless Driving, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked, and Operating a Vehicle Without a Valid Driver‘s License.

Please note that the law which makes DUI illegal (§316.193) does NOT require that you were actually drunk to be guilty of DUI, nor does it have to be alcohol or a recreational drug that caused your impairment. And, the law does NOT require that you were actually driving the car if you were otherwise in "control" of it.

Murder (Homicide)

There are several types of murder: First Degree Murder-Premeditated (§782.04(1)), Second Degree Murder-Depraved Mind (§782.04(2)) or Second Degree-Felony Murder (§782.04(3)), Manslaughter (§782.07), DUI Manslaughter (§316.193(3)(c)3), and Vehicular (§782.071) and Vessel (§782.072) Homicide. A wrongful conviction for a murder charge-whether it is because someone else did it, or because it was actually a justifiable act under the law-is one of the worst injustices possible in the criminal justice system.

Mounting an aggressive and vigorous defense can be extremely expensive but is also absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, these cases can last for quite a while before the actual trial begins in order to give an adequate amount of time to prepare expert issues and defense tactics. The Arthur Firm will not only seek to shorten these timeframes, but we will also spend time meeting with the client (even in jail) to build the attorney-client relationship and keep the client well informed.

Post-conviction

Unfortunately, if this is the area in which you seek help, things must have gone wrong. Sometimes there are legal grounds to undo them, and sometimes not. If your conviction came when you entered a plea of no contest or guilty (as opposed to after a trial where you were found guilty) then you probably went through what is called a ”plea colloquy“ with the judge wherein she asked you a list of questions before convicting you. That list is intended specifically to keep convictions from being undone if the reason is that you did not understand or should not have listened to your lawyer. But there are other grounds that The Arthur Firm may be able to use for filing these motions which can be more successful.

Pre-Arrest Investigation

One day out of the blue, you receive a letter from a government official, or a phone call from a detective or agent, and suddenly you realize you are part of a criminal investigation before any charges are filed. This can be quite a scary and unanticipated situation and you may not know what to do, so we‘ll tell you: DO NOT MEET WITH ANYONE and instead call The Arthur Firm right away, even if you already agreed to meet with whomever sent the letter or made the phone call.

Robbery

Robbery crimes (including Home Invasion and Carjacking-§812.13 - 812.135) arise out of theft activity when it is combined with the use of force in the theft. These violent crimes carry lengthy prison sentences, and often include a minimum mandatory sentence for the use of a firearm when the alleged robbery was committed. Given the violent nature of these crimes, you will need an attorney who can get the jury past the intimidation factor so that they will evaluate the evidence properly and truly give you a fair trial. You may also need an attorney equipped with handling multi-defendant issues to keep you from being convicted just because someone else got a deal to testify against you. At The Arthur Firm, we do not like snitches.

Theft

Theft charges come in all sizes and forms (§812.014; 812.0145; 812.015). Depending on the monetary value allegedly stolen and from where the money or item of value was stolen, the maximum penalty could be from only 60 days in jail to 30 years in prison. These cases also involve a lot of restitution to be paid; depending on the victim, restitution can sometimes be used to perhaps avoid charges altogether.

A commonly overlooked fact is that you can be convicted of theft even if all they prove is that you started to steal but then changed your mind. According to the law, you are guilty of theft even if you intended to only temporarily deprive the owner or custodian of their property or right thereto. Still, the government must be able to prove you had an illegal intent and The Arthur Firm will always hold the government to that burden in trial.

A separate theft law worth mentioning is Dealing in Stolen Property (§812.019). According to this law, ”any person who traffics in, or endeavors to traffic in, property that he or she knows or should know was stolen shall be guilty⋅⋅⋅“ In other words, if the government can prove that someone who bought merchandise should have known that the item(s) was stolen, then they are still guilty. This part of the law basically requires persons to do their part to make sure that they are buying merchandise which has not been stolen before they go forward with their purchase. If you are unsure whether to make a purchase, call The Arthur Firm for advice on how to protect yourself from this kind of charge later on.

Weapons or Firearms Offence

When a person is arrested for a weapons charge, it is usually because they are being accused of Carrying a Concealed Weapon or Firearm (§790.01), Improper Exhibition of a Firearm (§790.10), Discharging a Firearm in Public (§790.15), Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition by a Convicted Felon (§790.23), or Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Crime (§790.07). Many of these crimes also carry a minimum mandatory sentence of varying lengths, such as the well publicized 10-20-Life penalty (§775.087). Much like drug cases, these charges often depend on whether the government can prove you were in actual or constructive possession of the weapon or firearm. Much like DUI‘s and driver‘s license cases, a conviction for a weapons charge could not only establish a criminal record but it could keep you from obtaining an occupational license. Like all other criminal cases, The Arthur Firm is prepared to vigorously defend you from such negative consequences.

White Collar Crimes

White Collar Crimes can range from Mortgage and Medicare Fraud to Financial Crimes and Money Laundering. Persons charged with these crimes are usually aware that they had been under investigation. If you have been alerted that you may be the target of an investigation, retaining an attorney to protect you is paramount–even if you are totally innocent–to avoid charges or begin damage control. If you have already been charged with such a crime, you need a practiced trial attorney to properly prepare a vigilant defense.

Witness Representation

Perhaps you are the victim of a crime, or witness to a someone else‘s criminal act. Either way, you may want representation to protect your rights or to help you go through the process yourself and to speak on your behalf to the government. Having experience on the criminal defense side has made The Arthur Firm more adept at representing you in these matters than a non-defense law office.