Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney
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Board Certified Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer Helping People Charged with Serious State and Federal Offenses

Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney

Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Deric Zacca of Deric Zacca, P.A. represents persons charged with serious felonies and other crimes in Fort Lauderdale and throughout South Florida. Depending upon the nature of the crime for which you have been arrested, you may have one or more solid defenses against the crime charged. Deric Zacca will investigate the circumstances surrounding your arrest and counsel you on your options. With your consent, Mr. Zacca will create a strategy designed to get you the best result possible in your situation, whether that be a dismissal or reduction of charges, a plea bargain that avoids jail or other serious consequences, or a strong defense at trial aimed at a not guilty verdict or judgment of acquittal.

Criminal Offenses Tried by Florida State Court As Opposed to Federal Court

The state has a vast reach in jurisdiction among many types of crimes, including:

State offenses vary from federal in many cases, though there can be some overlap between state and federal crimes. In most cases, there is a clear distinction between state and federal, and if a state law is broken then it will be tried in a state court; if a federal code is broken (a crime listed in the constitution or specifically by congress), it will be tried in a federal court by the U.S. Attorney.

From the initial arrest to trial, having an attorney guide you, advise you, and represent you is essential to achieving the best possible outcome. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Deric Zacca is a Florida Bar Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer with hundreds of cases under his belt. Below is a look at the key stages of the Florida criminal process, and how Deric Zacca can help at every step.

Below is a description of some of the different types of offenses prosecuted under Florida criminal law, and a look at how Deric Zacca, P.A. can help.

Drug Charges

Florida drug laws cover a long list of controlled substances and outlaw their cultivation or manufacture, possession, and sale or distribution (drug trafficking). Penalties for conviction may include steep fines and lengthy prison sentences, but there are often defenses available to drug crime prosecutions. Common defenses include lack of probable cause to stop and search, an illegal search or seizure that goes beyond the bounds of the initial scope of a reasonable search, lack of knowledge or intent and entrapment. Also, Florida law offers alternatives to incarceration, such as treatment or court supervision. Deric Zacca provides a strong defense against drug charges or fights to get you the help you need.

Theft and Property Offenses

Property crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies – first degree felonies – depending upon the type of property involved and its value. Some offenses, such as robbery or burglary, can even be charged as life felonies if a firearm is involved. If you are detained by security personnel or arrested by the police, you should keep in mind that their questioning may be designed toward getting you to confess to a crime.  A confession can undermine other valid legal defenses such as law enforcement conducting an illegal search and seizure. Also, in order to convict you of a theft offense, the state must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to steal the property in question. Before you plead guilty to a charge built on shaky evidence or misinformation, contact Deric Zacca, P.A. We represent persons in Fort Lauderdale charged with any manner of property crime, including shoplifting, grand theft, larceny, burglary and robbery.

Assault and Violent Crime

Violent crime has been on a major decline over the past few decades in Fort Lauderdale, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. However, that does not mean that it no longer exists. Police sometimes make mistakes when hard pressed for evidence or suspects, and self defense can often be overlooked. We understand that not every arrest is valid. Conviction for crimes such as assault, including aggravated assault, sexual assault and domestic violence, can land you in jail and expose you to civil liability from the crime victim, as well as impact domestic court orders such as child custody. The penalties for many offenses, such as robbery, are enhanced if the use of violence or a weapon is involved. However, there may be many methods that Deric Zacca, P.A can assist you when it comes to being convicted of an assault charge, including self-defense or defense of others, lack of an adequate identification or a coerced confession. There may also be factors involved in an incidence of violence that will serve to mitigate or lessen any penalty which might be imposed. Let Board Certified criminal defense attorney Deric Zacca examine the facts of your case and prepare and present an aggressive defense on your behalf.

DUI and Misdemeanors

Driving while over the legal blood alcohol content (a BAC of 0.08) is illegal in Florida and in all states. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2015 there were 25,692 guilty charges of driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol. However, there were 46,922 original DUI charges, which means that many of those who face a DUI charge are able to have them dropped. These drivers are are able to be proven innocent or have the charges dispelled. Of the original DUI charges, just 75 percent of drivers were found guilty while five percent of the cases were adjusted by a judge, one percent of the drivers were found not guilty, five percent of the cases were dismissed, and 14 percent were dismissed due to nolle prosequi (the prosecutor dropped the case).  A conviction for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or any misdemeanor offense can mean consequences ranging from fines to up to a year in jail. The fines that follow are listed below, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:

  • The fine for a first DUI conviction will be between $500 and $1,000 for a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more. Or, a first conviction with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or more, or with a minor in the vehicle, will result in a $1,000 to $2,000 fine;
  • The fine for the second DUI conviction will be between $1,000 and $2,000 for a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more. Or, a second conviction with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or more, or with a minor in the vehicle, will result in a $2,000 to $4,000 fine;
  • The fine for the third conviction (if more than 10 years from the second conviction) will be between $200 and $5,000 for a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more. Or, a first conviction with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or more, or with a minor in the vehicle, will result in a fine no less than $4,000 and;
  • The fourth or subsequent conviction DUI fine shall be no less than $2,000.

Additionally, you can face other penalties such as the loss of your driver’s license. Beyond any criminal penalties imposed, having a criminal record can haunt you as you go through life and apply for a job, an apartment, higher education or a professional license. Any arrest should be taken seriously, which means your first call should be to a dedicated and experienced criminal defense attorney like Deric Zacca, who will vigorously defend your rights and work to get the best outcome for you.

Fort Lauderdale & Florida Criminal Process

The Arrest

The first step in the Florida criminal process is an arrest made by the police. An arrest must be based on probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the person being arrested committed it. Sometimes the police have probable cause because they personally witnessed a crime in action, or uncovered evidence through a stop and frisk (pat-down) or DUI breath test. Otherwise, a lengthy investigation must be undertaken before the police decide who to arrest. During this process, they may approach suspects and attempt to interview them. The point of interviewing a suspect is not to clear them of suspicion but rather to get them to make incriminating statements that give the police probable cause to arrest. Deric Zacca can help you by advising you before you talk to the police, whether you are approached for questioning, in custody, or under arrest.

The police cannot arrest you without probable cause. Don’t be the one to give it to them.

Bond and First Appearance

At your first appearance before a judge, you will be informed of the crime you were arrested for and given a copy of the complaint. A bond is set, allowing you to go free pending trial if you pay the bond amount. This is known as pretrial release and is available in most cases, except for certain capital or life offenses or when pretrial detention is authorized by law. The first appearance should occur within 24 hours of your arrest, unless you were previously released. Counsel can be appointed for you at this first appearance if you can’t afford to hire a lawyer. If you have retained Deric Zacca, he can appear with you at this first appearance and argue for a low bond amount (or no bond at all) as well as appropriate conditions for your bail. A bail bond company may also offer you a better rate if you are represented by respected counsel at this stage. A significant amount of money is usually required to post bail, which can be a huge financial burden on even a modest income family.

A probable cause determination or non-adversarial preliminary hearing may also be held within 48 hours of your arrest. If your arrest was not based on a warrant, then a judge should review your case and determine whether probable cause exists to hold you for the crime for which you were arrested. Deric Zacca can represent you at this hearing and argue that probable cause does not exist. Also, if you were arrested for a misdemeanor, you have the opportunity to take a plea and sentence at this hearing, and in some cases it may be in your best interests to do so. Deric Zacca will advise you of your rights and options.

The Charging Process

Grand jury indictments are generally reserved for capital crimes or other high-profile cases; in most cases, charges are brought against you when the prosecutor files what is known as an information. If no information has been filed within 21 days of arrest, you are entitled to an adversarial preliminary hearing to determine whether you should be charged with a crime or not.


The arraignment is where the charges against you are read and a plea is entered. In most cases, Not Guilty is the appropriate plea at this stage, although your attorney will certainly advise you of your options and what plea is in your best interests.


Before the trial begins, the prosecution and the defense have time to prepare for trial and develop their strategy. It is important at this stage for your attorney to thoroughly investigate the charges and the evidence against you, to talk to potential witnesses, and to locate any evidence in your favor. Your cooperation in this process is often key.

Plea Negotiations or Trial

Depending upon what was discovered during the discovery phase, your attorney may be able to convince the prosecution to drop the charges against you, or he may counsel you about entering a guilty plea. A plea agreement can lead to a conviction for a lesser charge than what you are charged with, and a lesser punishment. A guilty plea is not to be entered lightly, however, and your attorney should fully explain the implications of a conviction to you before you decide whether to go trial or not.

The trial itself is conducted in several phases that begins with jury selection. After a jury is impaneled, the prosecution and the defense may each make their opening statements. The prosecution then presents its case, followed by the presentation of the defense. It is not necessary for the defense to put on a case, since the burden is on the prosecution to prove its case, but typically one will be presented. Each side is entitled to challenge or cross-examine the witnesses for the other side. Following closing arguments by each side, the jury retires to another room to deliberate and then returns with a verdict. If the verdict is guilty, sentencing will follow. If the verdict is not guilty, the defendant goes free. Even if the jury returns a guilty verdict, your attorney may still ask the judge for a judgment of acquittal and argue why acquittal is appropriate. You also have the right to appeal a guilty verdict, which may be advisable if proper grounds exist. The state cannot appeal a not guilty verdict.

Call Deric Zacca, P.A. for an Effective Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested in Fort Lauderdale for a Florida criminal offense, don’t talk to the police until you have spoken to a lawyer. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury, and you have defenses and rights in your favor, including the right to be represented by a knowledgeable and effective Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney. For dedicated and experienced Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney, contact Deric Zacca, P.A. at 954-450-4848 for a free consultation.

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