June 22 2018
If you get arrested in Lee County, either in Cape Coral, Ft. Myers or Leheigh, and your offense is a third degree felony or serious misdemeanor, if you do not immediately bond out, you will be taken before a judge within 24 hours. At that first appearance, you may be told that your case qualifies for ERC. That means you could be going to Early Resolution Court. You may be told that you do not need a lawyer and be advised to just “save your money” and take the deal they offer you. That really helps the judges and prosecutors because it makes the cases go quickly and reduces their workload. The truth is that, ERC may or may not help you or be in your best interest.
You may be offered “probation” at the early resolution court hearing. Although that may sound like a good deal, chances are, at the time you are offered that, you probably have not had an opportunity to have had a one on one meeting with the public defender or any lawyer. People often see the public defender for the first and only time in the courtroom. They may only get seconds with the public defender before having to make an important decision that can change their life. Probation may sound good, but it can be a trap. What if you are genuinely not guilty? What if it was someone else’s drugs? What if you really did not commit the crime? What if you are an addict or an alcoholic? What if you had a prescription for the drugs? What if you were only defending yourself? What if the arresting officer lied about why he stopped you? What if it was an illegal search?
If you take a plea deal and give up a good defense, it may be the biggest mistake of your life.
At our criminal defense office we handle probation violations and all too often, by the time people get to us, they have already given up a good defense, taken probation and now violated. Most lawyers, including the ones at our criminal defense office do not charge for an initial consultation. There is no downside to talking to a real good criminal lawyer before you make an important decision. A bad decision may have resulted in you getting arrested. Don’t make another bad decision and give up important rights without talking to a lawyer.
Our Constitution provides that you have a right to an attorney. The law says that “if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you”. The simple fact however is that all lawyers are not created equal. Doctors are not the same. Where would you go if you were really sick? Would you want to go to a really good doctor you selected or take your chances at the Public Health Clinic? That is a no brainer. You should always talk to a good qualified experienced lawyer.