Board Certified Criminal Trial Specialist  (Federal & State Courts)

Frequently Asked Questions

Have you previously handled a case like mine?

This question arises often because someone charged with a crime or think they might be charged with a crime need assurance that their lawyer is experienced in the particular matter at hand.  The client is best served by a lawyer well versed in local practice and procedure and who is familiar with prosecutors and judges.   Since 1988, Mr. Liebling has handled thousands of criminal cases ranging from DUI, disorderly conduct, drug possession, drug trafficking, white collar crime, theft, robbery, sexual offenses, DUI manslaughter and first degree murder.  

How much will it cost?

Flat fees are customary in criminal defense cases.  This is beneficial to the client in knowing what to expect.  As an added protection, the specific terms of representation are in writing.   Each client's needs and circumstances are unique, thus, fees are determined after evaluating what services the client desires.   Many clients believe it is their interest to resolve the case by plea bargain and not by jury trial.  Plea bargaining is generally more efficient and much less costly.  At other times, a client may believe a jury or non-jury trial is necessary and this would involve additional costs and expense.  The client will always have the final say in how the case will be resolved.

Am I facing jail or prison?

It depends on the charge and prior criminal history, if any.  Some offenses are designated so serious that there may be mandatory jail or prison sentences.  Sometimes an offense may have minimum/mandatory incarceration and/or fines.  There are also offenses (even without incarceration) that require a "conviction" which can have negative consequences for employment, place of residence and your driver license.

Can I be prosecuted in both state and federal court?

Yes.  Depending on the offense, it is possible to be prosecuted in both state and federal court for the same alleged criminal conduct.  Although this does not happen often, it can present specific challenges regarding sentencing among other issues.   Mr. Liebling is well experienced in state and federal court and is available for representation in both venues.

Are criminal charges in federal court more serious than state court?

Any involvement in the criminal justice system whether already charged or about to be charged, it is to be taken seriously.  Federal court sentencing guidelines (and fines) can be particularly harsh depending on the criminal charge filed and prior criminal history, if any.  However, state court penalties should not be taken lightly because over the past number of years Florida lawmakers have enacted many penalty enhancements.

I have not yet been arrested or charged, why can't I just wait and see what happens?

This can be a huge mistake.  Many times a person may have interacted with the police, perhaps a report is taken but no arrest was made, this creates a false sense of security.  Everything from an argument with a spouse, neighbor or someone you just met may result in your becoming a target for criminal prosecution.  You may think it was "no big deal", believing law enforcement and prosecutors will decline to pursue the matter or that the other person has or will "drop the charges",  If you are not communicating with law enforcement or prosecutors you have no knowledge of what charge is being considered and no ability to manage the situation.  Many times, a lawyer can be instrumentally helpful by insulating the client and negotiating with the appropriate governmental officials.

Do I really need a lawyer?

Would you consider performing surgery on yourself even if you were trained as a surgeon?   Of course not.  If you are contacted by state or federal authorities in relation to a criminal investigation anything you say can and will be used against you.   For many reasons, it is wise to have a lawyer as a "buffer" between you and law enforcement.  This is how you can protect your interests and rights.  A lawyer intervening on your behalf would be in a better position to assess the nature and purpose of an investigation. 

In a criminal investigation, a person could be contacted by one or more state and federal law enforcement agencies such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), various county Sheriff's offices, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), United States Marshals Service, Criminal Division of the IRS (CID), the United States Postal Service, or the Bureau of Alcohol, and Firearms and the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). 

What happens after an arrest?

The law enforcement agency involved will prepare reports about the offense, obtain witness statements, perform a background check of the accused, and do further investigation as needed.  Law enforcement will then bring their written investigation to the prosecutor (for example, the  United States Attorney's Office or State Attorney's Office). An Assistant United States Attorney or Assistant State Attorney will then make a decision to file or not file a criminal charge.  

What if the police violated my constitutional rights?

An experienced criminal defense attorney will seek to exclude evidence obtained as a result of law enforcement errors or misconduct.  Errors or misconduct may occur in searches that take place during ordinary traffic stops or in a person's home. Law enforcement officers may be too aggressive in attempting to obtain incriminating statements or may violate a person's constitutional rights. There are rules and procedures in the criminal justice system that a criminal defense lawyer can use to protect the client by seeking to exclude improperly obtained evidence or statements.  A successful motion to suppress evidence can severely impair a prosecutor's case, possibly resulting in  a dismissal or substantial charge reduction.

Can I seal or expunge a criminal case?

It depends on the nature of the charge, case disposition and prior criminal history, if any.  The answer to this question must be case specific and, if you are eligible for a sealing or expungement, it will help protect your privacy and reputation.

If I am not a U.S. citizen, will a criminal charge affect my immigration status?

Criminal convictions can have negative consequences regarding immigration status and may lead to deportation proceedings. The Immigration and Customs enforcement agency's guidelines are complex.  The U.S. Marshal's office has responsibility for determining immigration status.  Once a person is in custody (even if charges are later dismissed), an "immigration hold" may be placed subjecting that person to possible deportation.

Edward Liebling, Attorney At Law        (727) 725-3600