As sad and unfair as it may seem, a momentary lapse in judgment can have ripple effects for the rest of your life. Having an open container of alcohol while on a Florida beach or a loud and frustrating argument in public can get you arrested in the state of Florida.
It seems all laws have a side note; one interesting fact is that it is possible that a person can be found guilty of a crime, but not convicted of committing that crime. How so you ask?
Once a person is arrested, the following normally happens. You would be formally charged, you should hire a skilled Florida criminal defense attorney, the judge will preside over your case and make a ruling of either adjudicated guilty (found guilty), you plea bargain to a lesser sentence, the case is dropped or dismissed, or the judge withholds adjudication (depending on the crime).
Not all states follow this chain of events, but Florida is a state in which the judge has the authority to withhold adjudication in most circumstances. There are some circumstances where a Judge cannot withhold adjudication based upon Florida Statue. For instance, if you are found guilty after trial for a Driving Under the Influence charge the Judge cannot withhold adjudication. The Florida Legislature will require the presiding Judge to adjudicate you. You should always consult with your attorney and ask if it is possible to get a withhold of adjudication.
Basically, withholding adjudication is an interesting option that gives first time offenders, and sometimes those with a minimal history of prior convictions a 2nd chance. This is done by avoiding a formal conviction of the crime. If the Court or Judge withholds adjudication, you may have the ability to seal your record one year after your case is officially closed (1 year after you are off probation or finish your sentence.) Furthermore, you may have the ability to expunge your record. If your attorney can secure a withhold of adjudication this could significantly impact your options regarding your criminal record.
Having a felony (or even a misdemeanor) conviction on your records can haunt you for life. With a felony conviction, you may:
- Lose your right to vote
- Lose your right to possess a firearm
- Never serve on a jury
- Incur foreign travel restrictions (put in place by other countries)
- Potential employers and housing authorities may conduct background searches and withhold employment or housing based on your past criminal record
- Hold the social stigma of being a convicted felon
If the judge rules that adjudication is withheld, this normally means that if the person can pay any fines levied and successfully complete the terms of probation with no subsequent offense, no further action will be taken in the case and there will be no formal conviction of the crime. Fl. Stat. 948.01 vests Florida Judges with the power to withhold adjudication.
Koonlegal has experienced criminal defense attorney’s that can assist you with your case. We have offices in Miami, Gainesville, Lake City, and Live Oak, Florida. Our main office is located in Lake City, Florida. 284 SW Baya Drive, Lake City, Florida 32025. 386-597-0000.