Please Note: Izquerido Law Firm remains open and available to serve you and meet your criminal defense, DUI defense and Federal Crimes attorney needs during the COVID-19 crisis. We can meet with clients, existing or new, in person, over the phone or with your preferred video-chat application. Please call our office at 305-707-7345 to discuss your options.

Common Questions About Criminal Defense Cases

When starting down the road to a criminal trial, many clients have the same questions. Here, our knowledgeable lawyer has shared some of his answers to the most common questions to help offer information and peace of mind when you need it most.

  • Page 1
  • How should I prepare for my virtual hearing?

    Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Izquierdo LawWhen the coronavirus pandemic hit Southern Florida, courts closed and hearings and trials were postponed. To get things moving again, courts turned to remote hearings held on the meeting platform Zoom. This has proven to be an efficient way to take care of certain kinds of court proceedings, so it is likely that remote hearings could continue for the foreseeable future. However, just because you are tuning in to your hearing from home on a computer or cell phone, that doesn’t mean you should not take the process seriously.

    Zoom Court Has the Same Power as In-Person Court

    If your hearing has been scheduled to take place on Zoom, you need to realize that this is the actual hearing—not a warm-up or practice. The information presented by attorneys and decisions made by the judge are just as they would be in an in-person courtroom. As a defendant, you need to take this virtual appearance as seriously as you would an actual court appearance.

    How to Prepare for a Zoom Hearing

    As your defense attorney, I will make sure you have the technology and internet access you need to join the hearing at the right time. However, since you will be in your own space, the rest of the appearance will be up to you. Here are some tips for a successful Zoom court session:

    Dress appropriately.

    Wear a clean, collared shirt or a nice sweater. Do not wear a shirt with images or writing on it. Also, WEAR PANTS! Even if you don’t think you will be seen below the waist, you never know what could happen. Judges have reported seeing defendants in pajamas, bathrobes, shirtless, and in the bathroom! Don’t let that be you.

    Arrange for privacy.

    Having children or pets running in and out of the room is not conducive to being taken seriously by a judge. Have a neighbor take the kids and leave the pets outside or in another room. Sit at a desk or kitchen table. Do not sit in bed or lounge on a sofa.

    Eliminate other noise.

    Mute your phone, turn off the television, and close other windows on your computer. Put a do not disturb sign on your door to prevent visitors or family members from interrupting the hearing.

    Be aware of Zoom etiquette.

    During the meeting, make sure the lighting and camera are adjusted so that your whole face can be clearly seen. Mute your microphone when you are not speaking, but remember to unmute yourself and look into the camera (not at the screen) when you are speaking.

    Be respectful.

    You should not be doing anything other than participating in the hearing. Your eyes should be on your computer or phone screen the entire time. Speak clearly and say “Yes, ma’am” or “Yes sir” when addressing the judge.

    If you have never participated in a Zoom meeting and are worried about it going well, I can schedule a practice session with you ahead of the hearing date.

    Do You Trust Your Florida Criminal Defense Attorney?

    If you are facing criminal charges in the Miami area, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who cares about the outcome of your case. Please feel free to contact me online or to call my Coral Gables office directly at 305.707.7345. You can also request my free book The Ultimate Guide to Fighting Criminal Charges in Florida, a detailed download discussing the myths, rumors, and hearsay often associated with criminal charges, what to expect from your criminal court proceedings, and important steps you must take to battle your charges.

     

  • I was charged with unemployment insurance fraud. What should I do?

    Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Izquierdo LawAfter reaching an all-time high of 14.7 percent in April, the unemployment rate across the U.S. dropped to 8.4 percent in August. This means that 13.6 million Americans were still out of work in August as a result of the coronavirus shutdowns last March. In Florida, the unemployment rate was at 11.3 percent in July, higher than the national average, and an increase from June. In an effort to help people who lost their jobs due to COVID-19, the federal government expanded states’ ability to provide unemployment benefits through the CARES Act in March. Almost as soon as these programs rolled out, applicants were being investigated for fraud. If you are one of them, you need to hire a federal defense attorney.

    What Is Unemployment Insurance Fraud?

    Collecting unemployment benefits when you are not entitled to them—or helping someone else get benefits they haven’t earned—is considered a form of fraud and is illegal. Given the expanded coverage provided by the CARES Act, millions of Americans who had never collected unemployment before suddenly found themselves applying. Not all of these people should have applied, and many were approved who shouldn’t have been, but in order to be charged with a crime, you must have:

    • Knowingly provided false or incomplete information when applying for benefits
    • Returned to work while still collecting benefits
    • Failed to report additional income

    Whether you set out to defraud the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) or you are a victim of an overzealous investigator, when you are charged, you need an attorney who will fight for you.

    Possible Defenses to Fraud Charges

    Fraud charges should never be taken lightly. When you work with my defense team, we will build the strongest possible case to achieve the best outcome. Appropriate defenses might include:

    • You did not have a specific intent to defraud the state.
    • The prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence that you committed fraud.
    • Someone filed on your behalf without your knowledge.
    • Law enforcement broke the law in obtaining evidence against you.

    Have You Been Charged With Florida Unemployment Insurance Fraud?

    If you are suspected of unemployment insurance fraud, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami. Please feel free to contact me online or to call my Coral Gables office directly at 305.707.7345. You can also request my free book, The Ultimate Guide to Fighting Criminal Charges in Florida. Don’t leave your freedom or your reputation to chance. Hire a lawyer who will fight for you!

     

  • Why was a hate crime added to my criminal charge, and what does that mean?

    Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Izquierdo LawIf you were charged with a crime such as rape, assault, vandalism, or harassment and the alleged victim is a member of a protected class, you could face additional penalties for “evidencing prejudice while committing an offense.” In other words, you could be charged with a hate crime. However, the state will have to meet a particular burden of proof, and that’s where a skilled defense attorney can help.

    What Is a Hate Crime?

    A violent crime can be reclassified as a more serious offense if it is suspected that the victim was targeted because of one of the following characteristics:

    • Race
    • Color
    • Ancestry
    • Ethnicity
    • Religion
    • Sexual orientation
    • Gender identity
    • National origin
    • Homeless status
    • Advanced age

    However, it takes more than just the personal characteristics of the victim to justify charges of a hate crime. The prosecutor also has to prove that the defendant was motivated to commit the crime by hatred or bias towards to victim. The use of a discriminatory slur is not sufficient to prove that a hate crime has occurred. Evidence must be presented that the perpetrator holds prejudiced views and targeted the victim because of a personal characteristic.

    How a Defense Attorney Will Fight Hate Crime Charges

    Hate crime charges are usually added to a base offense, such as robbery or assault. One possible defense is to prove that you didn’t commit the base crime, and therefore, are not guilty of a hate crime. If you are found guilty of the base crime, your attorney can fight the hate crime enhancement by presenting evidence of the following:

    • You have no history of prejudice against people with the same personal characteristics as the victim.
    • You do not associate with groups that target these individuals.
    • You did not use discriminatory slurs, gestures, or symbols during the commission of the crime.
    • You were unaware of the victim’s personal characteristics.
    • You were not aware that language or markings you used are considered offensive to certain groups.
    • Other evidence that you were not motivated by hate or prejudice.

    A hate crime enhancement can add years to a prison sentence and raise fines substantially, so it is important that you hire the best defense attorney you can to fight these charges.

    Have You Been Charged With a Federal Crime?

    If you've been charged with a federal crime you need to speak with an experienced federal crime attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online or call me at my Miami office directly at 305.707.7345.

     

  • Can video from a doorbell camera be used against me in court?

    Miami Criminal Defense Attorney Izquierdo LawCameras are everywhere these days, and it’s hard to do anything without being caught on video. But can a dark, grainy video be used as evidence that you committed a crime? The prosecutor can try, but your defense attorney should do all he can to discredit the evidence in court.

    More Surveillance Video Is Available Than Ever Before

    There is no doubt that cell phones and surveillance cameras have had a big impact on crime in recent years. When a crime is caught on camera, it becomes much harder for a defendant to deny the accusations against him. Sometimes, this is a good thing for society. For example, both bystanders with cell phones and police officers’ own body cams have caught incidents of police brutality on camera, proving cases that would have otherwise been impossible to prove. However, images caught on camera are not always great quality, and this creates problems for innocent people who are falsely identified.

    Challenging the Evidence in Court

    Surveillance cameras have been around for a long time, especially in stores and businesses. More recently, people have been installing doorbell cameras to keep an eye on what happens on their front porches. These cameras have captured everything from animal antics to heartwarming acts of kindness, but they have also led to misidentifications and false arrests. If you have been identified as a suspect based on a doorbell camera or security camera, your defense attorney should:

    Question the quality.

    Security video footage is often dark, blurry, and grainy. It is very difficult to get a positive facial identification from them because the resolution is just not high enough. If you were identified based on clothing or the model of a car, your attorney should make a point that this evidence is circumstantial at best.

    Look at the evidence chain.

    It is surprisingly easy to hack into security systems and to alter or edit video footage. If the prosecutor cannot establish a clear chain of possession for the video that is being used, your attorney should question its reliability as evidence. Since digital video can be tampered with remotely until it is taken offline, the chain of possession should always be questioned by the defense.

    Do You Find Yourself In Need Of A Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer?

    If you've recently found yourself in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami you should contact me as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact me online or to call my Coral Gables office directly at 305.707.7345. You can also request my free book "The Ultimate Guide To Fighting Criminal Charges In Florida", a detailed download discussing the myths, rumors and hearsay often associated with criminal charges, what to expect from your criminal court proceedings and important steps you must take to battle your charges.

     

  • What is sexual misconduct?

    Florida Sexual Misconduct Defense Lawyer Izquierdo Law FirmIf you have been charged with sexual misconduct in Florida, you might not think it’s that big a deal. After all, how could “misconduct” be as serious as something like rape or child pornography? However, not taking this charge seriously could be a big mistake that could impact your family and your future. As a sex offense, sexual misconduct carries penalties that could haunt you for many years to come.

    Why Am I Being Charged With Sexual Misconduct?

    Florida and most other states criminalize sexual conduct between a person in a position of power and someone who is subordinate to him. When there is an imbalance of power, the law assumes that the person in the inferior position is not capable of freely consenting to sexual activity and therefore the sexual relationship is forced or coerced, which is a crime. Examples of relationships with an imbalance of power include the following:

    • Employer and employee
    • Doctor and patient
    • Correctional officer and inmate
    • Caretaker and disabled adult
    • Teacher and adult student

    Even if you believed your sexual relationship to be consensual, you could be arrested for sexual misconduct if you get involved with a subordinate and he or she decides to press charges. If you try to convince the accuser to drop the charges, you could be digging yourself an even deeper hole.

    Why You Should Take the Charge Seriously

    A conviction of any type of sex crime, including sexual misconduct, can land you on the Florida sex offender registry. This list is available to the public, so there will be no way to keep your criminal history private. Being on the registry will restrict where you can live and will probably cost you your job.

    A skilled defense attorney can build several possible defenses to a sexual misconduct charge, including offering proof of consent in order to reduce the charges and keep you off the sex offender registry.

    Do You Find Yourself In Need Of A Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer?

    If you've recently found yourself in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami you should contact me as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact me online or to call my Coral Gables office directly at 305.707.7345. You can also request my free book "The Ultimate Guide To Fighting Criminal Charges In Florida", a detailed download discussing the myths, rumors and hearsay often associated with criminal charges, what to expect from your criminal court proceedings and important steps you must take to battle your charges.

     

  • What is the difference between rape and sexual battery in Florida?

    Miami Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Izquierdo Law FirmThese terms can be used interchangeably by accusers, police officers, and even lawyers. However, in an official legal context, you will not see the word “rape” used in Florida. While your accuser and even the law enforcement officers you deal with may use the term, the legal charge will be sexual battery. We take a look at this charge and why you need to hire a criminal defense attorney to defend you if you are accused of sexual battery.

    What Falls Under a Sexual Battery Criminal Charge?

    To answer this question, it is necessary to use the language as it appears in the state statute, which is necessarily graphic. In Florida, sexual battery is defined as “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or…by any other object, without the other party's consent or capacity to provide consent.” In other states, and under federal law, the term for this crime is rape. Make no mistake; if you are charged with sexual battery in Florida, that means you are being charged with rape, and you will face serious penalties. This is a felony offense and should be taken seriously. If convicted of sexual battery, you face:

    • Life in prison without parole or the death penalty if you are over 18 and the victim is under 12
    • 30 years to life in prison if you are under 18 and the victim is under 12
    • Up to 15 years in prison if the victim is 12 or older
    • Up to 30 years in prison if the victim is 12 or older, and the crime included threats or coercive acts, or the victim was physically incapacitated
    • 30 years to life in prison if you used a deadly weapon or physical force likely to cause serious bodily injury
    • Anyone convicted of sexual battery in Florida will be required to register as a sex offender.

    A possible defense to a sexual battery charge is to argue that the accuser provided consent. Under the statute, consent is defined as “intelligent, knowing, and voluntary, and does not include coerced submission. ‘Consent’ shall not be deemed or construed to mean the failure by the alleged victim to offer physical resistance to the offender.” If you believe you had consensual sex with a partner who later accuses you of sexual battery, you will need an experienced sex crimes defense attorney to make this argument in court.

    Do You Find Yourself In Need Of A Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer?

    If you've recently found yourself in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami you should contact me as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact me online or to call my Coral Gables office directly at 305.707.7345. You can also request my free book "The Ultimate Guide To Fighting Criminal Charges In Florida", a detailed download discussing the myths, rumors and hearsay often associated with criminal charges, what to expect from your criminal court proceedings and important steps you must take to battle your charges.

     

  • Will I be charged in state or federal court for an internet crime?

    Cyber Crime Coding  Federal Crimes Attorney Izquierdo Law FirmWhich court you end up in to face cybercrime charges will all depend on who arrested you. If you were arrested by the FBI, for example, you will appear in federal court. If you were arrested by the Miami-Dade police, you will appear in a local court. Either way, you want a criminal defense attorney with experience in that court who can protect your right to due process. Attorney Daniel Izquierdo represents clients in both federal and state courts and is experienced in a range of cybercrime defenses.

    When a Cybercrime Is Likely to Be Charged by a Federal Agency

    Most states, including Florida, have laws against certain activities on the internet that mirror federal law. Therefore, if you break state law, you are likely also in violation of federal law. Common cybercrimes include:

    Child Pornography 

    Using the internet to transmit explicit images of children is a crime in Florida and at the federal level, although federal law takes a more conservative view of what constitutes pornography.

    Phishing

    Sending multiple emails with the intent to deceive recipients—also known as spam—is often a federal crime because it targets people all over the country.

    Hacking 

    Officially known as accessing stored communication, this becomes a more serious crime when the perpetrator has gained financially from the offense or has maliciously destroyed property.

    Fraud 

    Using a computer to commit any kind of fraud is illegal. If the fraud crosses state lines, you will likely face federal charges.

    Harassment 

    Cyberbullying may remain under local jurisdiction if both the bully and the victim are local.

    In general, the more serious or widespread the criminal activity is, the more likely it is that a federal agency will be involved. If the activity crosses state lines—for example, soliciting a minor to travel to Florida—it will likely be transferred to a federal agency, even if it began as a local investigation.

    Do You Find Yourself In Need Of A Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer?

    If you've recently found yourself in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami you should contact me as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact me online or to call my Coral Gables office directly at 305.707.7345. You can also request my free book "The Ultimate Guide To Fighting Criminal Charges In Florida", a detailed download discussing the myths, rumors and hearsay often associated with criminal charges, what to expect from your criminal court proceedings and important steps you must take to battle your charges.

     

  • Can strict parenting be considered domestic violence in Florida?

    Child Being Yelled at By Her Parents Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Izquierdo LawThe short answer to this question is yes—any action can be misconstrued by law enforcement or prosecutors, especially when an estranged or former spouse makes an accusation. Florida allows for corporal punishment of children, but the law is left open to interpretation to some degree. If you have been accused of domestic or family violence for disciplining your child, your first move should be to call a defense attorney. You may be confident that you didn’t cross a line with your child, but that doesn’t mean the state will agree. Domestic violence defense attorney Daniel Izquierdo will fight for your right to discipline your child appropriately without facing criminal charges.

    What Does Florida Law Say About Appropriate Discipline?

    In defining child abuse, Florida statute 39.01(2) states, “Corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child.” The key phrase here is “harm to the child.” This is where interpretation can play a role. Florida law defines harm as “physical, mental, or emotional injury,” so even if your child’s spanking did not cause physical injury, you could be accused of causing a mental or emotional injury. Generally speaking, corporal punishment should be limited to using the hand to spank the buttocks and should not cause any of the following:

    • Bruises
    • Lacerations
    • Sprains or dislocations
    • Fractures
    • Scalds or burns
    • Internal hemorrhage
    • Scarring or disfigurement
    • Emotional effects such as fear, anxiety, or withdrawal

    In Florida, domestic violence is defined as “assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery…or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.” It’s easy to see how corporal punishment of a child could be seen as abuse or domestic violence. Slapping, punching, shoving, or grabbing a child—even a teenager—could be charged as abuse.

    Have You Been Accused Of Domestic Violence In Florida?

    You and your partner may not be at a good point in your relationship right now, but if your partner takes that a step further by accusing you of domestic violence, you need to fight back to protect your freedom. If you are frustrated about a domestic violence charge that is disrupting your life you need to speak with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online or call my Miami office directly at 305.707.7345.

    I also recommend that you download a free copy of our special report "He Said, She Said: Three Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Domestic Violence Case In Florida".  The sooner we talk, the sooner we will be able to help you fight the charges that could change your life forever.

     

  • Can an accuser prove a domestic violence charge without evidence?

    Evidence Puzzle Piece Izquierdo Law FirmAs with any criminal charge, it will be up to the prosecutor in a domestic violence case to prove in court that a crime was committed and that the defendant is guilty. They do this by presenting evidence. If your partner has accused you of domestic violence, you may believe that there could not be evidence that proves your guilt. However, you might be surprised by what the state presents at trial.

    What the State of Florida Will Have to Prove to Convict You

    In order to prove a domestic battery case, the state will have to provide evidence that shows one of the following:

    • The defendant actually and intentionally touched or struck another person against the will of the other.
    • The defendant intentionally caused bodily harm to another person.

    Photographic and medical evidence that the accuser was injured is not enough to prove that the defendant caused the injuries and did so intentionally. The prosecutor will have to present evidence that corroborates the accuser’s story and establishes intent.

    Evidence That May Be Used to Prove Your Guilt

    You might be confident that no such evidence exists, but prosecutors are very resourceful when it comes to gathering evidence to support a domestic violence charge. A key piece of evidence will be the accuser’s statements and testimony in court but, even if the accuser has changed his or her mind about testifying, the state may still have enough evidence to convict you. Potential sources of evidence include:

    Cell Phone Records 

    Tech experts can pull text messages, voicemail messages, and emails from your cell phone and computer. If any of the communication can be viewed as threatening or angry, this could establish a motive for the alleged attack.

    Witness Testimony 

    Investigators will talk to neighbors and others in the area at the time of the alleged abuse. They may have overheard a fight—either on the day of the alleged incident or on another occasion—that could make you look guilty.

    Security Camera Images

    Traffic, security, and porch cameras may have captured images of you coming or going from the accuser’s home. Bystanders’ cell phone videos may also provide evidence of your whereabouts and verbal or physical altercations between you and the accuser.

    Medical Evidence

    The police will photograph the accuser’s injuries when they respond to the call. Further medical exams could provide evidence of how the injuries occurred. Could the bruise have been caused by a fall, or did someone clearly grab the victim’s wrists? Medical experts will answer these questions in court.

    You cannot refute all of this evidence on your own.

    This Is Why You Need a Miami Defense Attorney as Soon as Possible

    If you have been arrested and charged with domestic violence, you need to call an attorney right away. Believing in your own innocence and being confident that there is no evidence to prove your guilt will not be enough to protect your reputation and your freedom if your case goes to trial. 

    Have You Been Accused Of Domestic Violence In Florida?

    You and your partner may not be at a good point in your relationship right now, but if your partner takes that a step further by accusing you of domestic violence, you need to fight back to protect your freedom. If you are frustrated about a domestic violence charge that is disrupting your life you need to speak with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online or call my Miami office directly at 305.707.7345.

    I also recommend that you download a free copy of our special report "He Said, She Said: Three Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Domestic Violence Case In Florida".  The sooner we talk, the sooner we will be able to help you fight the charges that could change your life forever.

     

  • I have been charged with a sex crime in Florida—should I use a public defender or hire a private attorney?

    Lawyer Shaking Hands at the First Attorney-Client Meeting Izquiredo Law FirmAs the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The more money you invest in a phone, car, or new suit, the better the quality you will get, and the happier you are going to be with it. Unfortunately, this is also true of our criminal justice system. When you are charged with something as serious as a sex crime, you want to hire the best attorney you can afford.

    If You Cannot Afford an Attorney, One Will Be Provided for You

    You should have heard these words as part of your Miranda rights when you were arrested. What it means is that the state will provide you with a defense attorney—known as a public defender—if you do not have the money to hire one yourself. This is an important right and one you should fully exercise if you do not have the money to hire an attorney. However, if you do have personal resources, you will not have the option of using a public defender. You will have to hire a private attorney.

    Advantages of Hiring a Private Attorney

    Public defenders are hard-working attorneys who do their best for their clients—there is no question about it. However, their caseloads are big and they are not able to spend a lot of time on each case. While they do often have good relationships with judges and prosecutors and may be able to secure quick plea deals, they simply don’t have the resources private attorneys have to build a strong defense. When you hire a private defense attorney, on the other hand, you will find that he is:

    Available When You Need Him 

    Private attorneys build their businesses on being responsive to clients, so they will make an effort to answer your phone calls and meet with you when you request it.

    Backed Up By Staff For Additional Support 

    Private criminal defense law firms have the resources to hire office staff who can answer questions and help clients when the attorney is not available.

    Free To Limit His Caseload 

    Unlike public defenders who have no say in how many cases they get, a private attorney will only take as many cases as he can manage. This way, he can devote more time to each client.

    Concerned About Outcomes 

    Private attorneys get new clients primarily by word of mouth. If they continually plead cases out and rarely get acquittals, they will not get new clients. Winning for his clients is essential to a successful practice.

    Unlike a public defender, who is simply assigned to you, you have options when choosing a private attorney. Ask people you trust for recommendations and take the time to ask potential attorneys questions about their firm.

    Are You Need Of A Florida Sex Crimes Defense Attorney?

    If you've been accused of a sex crime in Florida you need to speak with an experienced sex crime defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact me online or call my Miami office at 305.707.7345 today. We will discuss options for your defense and do everything we can to protect your rights and fight the charges.