You got a call that you were never expecting. Your young adult son has been arrested in Florida and charged with a sex crime. Whether you are a tough-love parent who thinks he should be taught a lesson or a helicopter parent who wants to swoop in and save him, you will have to make one important decision fairly quickly. Will you hire an experienced sex crimes attorney to defend your son, or will you tell him to accept a public defender? The choice you make could impact your son for the rest of his life.
What's Wrong With Using a Public Defender?
Public defenders are qualified defense lawyers assigned to defendants who do not have the money to hire their own attorneys. The line in the U.S. Constitution stating, "If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you," refers to a public defender. This is an invaluable service for those accused of crimes who don't have the resources or support to pay for legal representation. We understand that many people have no other choice. However, public defenders are overworked, underpaid, and tend to have much less experience than lawyers in private practice. Many are well-intentioned but simply do not have the time or the resources to adequately defend a young man accused of such a serious crime.
Paying for an Experienced Sex Crime Defense Lawyer Is an Investment in the Future
Your son may be completely innocent. He might have been falsely accused, misidentified, or set up. Or, he might have made a terrible mistake that he regrets. Whatever the circumstances surrounding his arrest are, he is facing very serious consequences. He may never have the future you once dreamed of for him if he is convicted.
Potential penalties and personal consequences of a sex offense conviction in Florida include:
- Prison sentence. Depending on the specific circumstances of the sexual assault, a conviction can lead to significant prison time. The length of the sentence varies based on factors such as the age of the victim, the use of force or violence, and the presence of aggravating factors.
- Sex offender registry. A conviction for sexual assault in Florida often requires registration on the state's sex offender registry—for life. This registration is public and can have serious social and professional implications for the convicted individual.
- Probation. In some cases, a convicted individual may receive probation as part of their sentence. During the probation period, they will be subject to strict supervision and must comply with various conditions, such as regular check-ins with a probation officer and restrictions on their activities.
- Criminal fines. The court may impose fines as part of the sentence, which can be substantial depending on the severity of the offense.
- Restitution. The court may order the convicted individual to pay restitution to the victim to compensate for any financial losses resulting from the assault.
- Loss of civil rights. A conviction for sexual assault can result in the loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to vote or possess firearms.
- Impact on employment and education. A sexual assault conviction can have a profound impact on the accused's future opportunities. It may result in the loss of current employment, difficulties finding future employment, and limitations on educational opportunities.
- Social stigma. The stigma associated with a sexual assault conviction can be overwhelming and may lead to alienation from family, friends, and the community.
- Personal relationships. A conviction for sexual assault can strain personal relationships and lead to the breakdown of familial ties.
- Immigration consequences. For non-U.S. citizens, a sexual assault conviction can lead to deportation or other immigration consequences.
With the help of a skilled Florida defense attorney, you might be able to help your son avoid the worst of these outcomes. As his parent, you want to do what you can to give him a shot at a bright future. When he has been accused of a serious crime, that shot starts with hiring the best defense lawyer you can afford. At Flaherty & Merrifield, we offer several ways to pay for our services, and we promise to do everything we can to get the best possible outcome.