Articles Posted in General Public Information

probation Pensacola Milton Destin
Nobody wants to go to jail.

As we all know, even people who are convicted of crimes are not automatically sent to jail for months or years. Many times, people who, perhaps, have an otherwise clean record or whose crimes were not especially serious, can remain free so long as the meet certain criteria for a proscribed period of time. This is called probation.

Probationers charged with felonies in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties are managed by the State Department of Corrections (the DOC). Each county has separate DOC offices. Misdemeanor probationers are handled by their respective counties.

To be represented by a Public Defender in Pensacola and elsewhere in Florida, a person must complete an “affidavit of indigency.”
Anyone who has taken middle school civics, or who has ever seen a cop show on TV, knows the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees those who are accused of a crime have the right to be represented by a lawyer in all critical phases of their criminal case. It’s one of the basic principles of the American justice system.

If a citizen of Pensacola, Milton, Okaloosa County or Walton County is charged with a crime but doesn’t have the resources to hire a private attorney, they will most likely need to use the services of the Public Defender’s Office

Often people are confused about whether Public Defenders in Florida, who represent indigent people, are in fact lawyers. They are definitely lawyers. They passed the Bar examination like the rest of us and many of them are damn fine lawyers.

Pre-trial diversion and pre-trial intervention can help offenders avoid getting convictions on their record in Pensacola and Northwest Florida.Everybody makes mistakes.

For some people, those mistakes bring them into conflict with the law. Thankfully, Florida law recognizes that, in some cases, offenders deserve a second chance.

In Pensacola, Milton, Fort Walton, Destin, and all over Northwest Florida, our State courts offer two programs that defer some offenders away from the criminal justice system who have never been in trouble with the law, generally for certain types of first offenders.

expungement sealing arrest attorney
If you’ve ever been arrested but you were not convicted, you may think you have a clean criminal record. A prosecutor, defense attorney or perhaps even a judge may have told you that.

However, your criminal record may not be as clear as you think it is. But an attorney can help that arrest virtually disappear through processes called expungement and sealing allowed in Florida under Fla. Stat. §943 (2015).

In most cases, being arrested for a crime will result in a permanent record of the arrest regardless of the charge being dismissed or adjudication being withheld.  In some situations, expungement and sealing can keep an arrest from showing up on background checks.

I have talked with a lot of people who are unaware that they can venture into any courthouse in our country, including any in Pensacola or anywhere in Florida, and watch real life drama unfold. Sometimes, is special cases, for example child abuse cases, the courtroom may be closed when a child testifies. However, 95% of all cases, state or federal, are open to the public to observe. Through the years I have seen “court room junkies,” people, usually retired, who go from courtroom to courtroom watching trials that interest them. Unlike television, many trials are not full of excitement unless you consider watching golf on t.v. an exciting, action packed sport. (No offense to golfers). White collar cases, where large amounts of paperwork are admitted into evidence are generally a bit boring. Also, personal injury cases, although handled sometimes by excellent lawyers, are generally not full of what most of us would consider excitement.

However, there is nothing like a murder case to get one’s interest peaked. Crime scene testimony, photographs, suspect statements, witnesses testimony, etc., can all be observed and heard first hand if one merely wants to take the time to go to the courthouse to watch. The judges in Pensacola welcome observers in the audience. You will see that the magical feats performed on CSI and other crime shows are not often present in real life trials. A good method of finding where “the action is” is to ask a courthouse security person or bailiff which judge is handling a felony trial or if there are any murder, drug, sexual battery cases, etc. being tried that week. Generally, in almost all courthouses, including Pensacola, you will find something interesting to watch. Something else you will find out if you watch trials down at your county courthouse: the O.J. trial was almost “make believe.” It’s too bad, in my opinion, that many people believe that the O.J. case is just another example of how our criminal justice system works. The O.J. case was a more of an entertainment show, not a trial. But that is another story in and of itself.