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Affecting the Filing Decision

Skilled Representation in St. Petersburg

Whether you were arrested in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, or a surrounding area, there is a window of time between the arrest and the point at which the prosecutor decides what charge he or she is going to file, if any. In misdemeanor cases, this window is usually 30-60 days; in a felony case, it can be anywhere from six weeks to four months, and in some instances longer.

In most cases, the prosecutor will file either (1) an "Information; or (2) a "No-Information". "Information" is the term used to describe a charging document in Florida. It contains the accused person's name, basic biographical information, the nature of the charge, and a brief statement of what is being alleged, including date and location. A "No Information" is a document prepared and filed by the prosecutor stating that he or she is declining to prosecute. If a "no information" is filed with the clerk of court, prosecution is terminated at that point.

With this in mind, the benefits of hiring a qualified St. Petersburg/Clearwater/Tampa criminal defense attorney are obvious. Negotiating for the filing of a no-information or the filing of a reduced charge during this window of time can make all the difference in a client's legal situation and, in many situations, his or her life. Sometimes the prosecutor may not be aware of certain mitigating circumstances including, for example, the existence of material witnesses that tend to negate culpability, efforts that the client has made in addressing the underlying issues that led to the arrest in the first place (such as drug, alcohol, or anger management counseling), the victim's refusal to prosecute, and a host of other potential possibilities.

Certain offenses, and particularly felony offenses, carry with them severe mandatory sentences, including adjudications of guilt, jail and/or prison time, and certain draconian collateral consequences such as the loss of a driver's license, sex offender registration requirements, and for non-U.S. citizens, the possibility of deportation. In those instances where the filing of a no-information is not likely, negotiating for the filing of a less serious offense can avoid many of these devastating scenarios. Once again, intervention by a qualified St. Petersburg/Clearwater/ Tampa criminal defense attorney at the earliest practicable point is crucial.

As a Pinellas county state prosecutor, Attorney Donald Kilfin always welcomed this sort of input from criminal defense attorneys on behalf of their clients and understands the import of doing so on behalf of his clients today. Sometimes the best defense is a solid offense, and the sooner that offense can developed on a client's behalf, the better chance the client has of attaining the best possible result. Mr. Kilfin has effectively negotiated favorable case results for dozens of clients over the years through a proactive approach well before the client is actually charged.

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