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Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Frequently Asked Questions

As a former prosecutor and experienced criminal defense attorney, Deric Zacca understands the questions that are going through your mind when you have been confronted by the police or placed under arrest. Below are answers to just some of the questions that may be foremost in your mind regarding Florida criminal law. If you have other questions, or if you need immediate assistance with an arrest or prosecution in Fort Lauderdale, contact Deric Zacca, P.A. at 954-450-4848 for a no-cost, confidential consultation.

What are my rights if I am arrested?

As a person accused of a crime, you have many constitutional rights that are there to ensure that you are treated fairly at every stage of the criminal justice process. When you are arrested or otherwise in custody, you have the right to remain silent and refuse to submit to police interrogation or questioning. You also have the right to an attorney of your choosing. At trial, you can choose to testify if you want to, but the government cannot make you testify against your will. You also have the right not to testify and have the court instruct the jury to not consider your silence as evidence against you.  You have the right to compel the presence of witnesses you wish to have testify, and you have the right to confront and cross-examine any witnesses against you. You also have the right to demand a jury trial where the government must turn over any evidence they possess which may help show you are innocent. These are just some of the rights you have as an accused. Make sure you retain a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney so that all your rights are protected and are not accidentally or unknowingly waived.

When should I hire a lawyer?

You should hire a lawyer any time law enforcement wants to question you about a criminal act that you may have allegedly committed.  You are entitled to have a lawyer present during any questioning by the police whether or not you have been arrested. Once arrested, you have the right to be represented by an attorney at all critical stages of a criminal prosecution. This includes important stages such as arraignment, bond hearing, preliminary hearing and all phases of the criminal legal process.

Do I have to let the police search my car if they pull me over for speeding or suspicion of drunk driving?

The police may use a traffic stop as a pretense to search you, your belongings or your car in hopes they will turn up evidence they can use against you. You may be nervous when you are stopped, and you might think that if you refuse to let the police search your car, they will suspect you of illegal activity and arrest you. The truth is, if the police ask for your permission to search, you have the right to withhold your consent, and they cannot search you or your property without probable cause. However, if the police are not asking your permission but are telling you they have the right to search, you should not argue with them or obstruct them. If the search turns out to be unlawful in any way, your attorney will fight to get the charges against you dismissed or have any evidence that was found in the search thrown out.

What happens if I am called to testify before a Grand Jury?

You should hire a lawyer any time you are suspected of committing a federal offense and receive a Grand Jury subpoena.  Grand jury proceedings are highly secretive, and it can be hard to know why you are being called into a grand jury. This is why it is crucial for your lawyer to determine whether you are a witness, subject or target of the Grand Jury investigation. If you are concerned that any testimony you provide to a grand jury could in some way incriminate you, make sure you talk to an attorney before the hearing. While your lawyer cannot go into the grand jury room with you, he can advise you before you go in and also negotiate an immunity agreement for your testimony if necessary. There are many different types of immunity agreements, such as Use Immunity, Derivative Use Immunity, and Transactional or Blanket Immunity, so make sure you get assistance from a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who will look out for your best interests in any grand jury proceeding or criminal prosecution.

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