3 Ways Aggravated Assault Charges Can Impact Your Future

Aggravated assault charges can impact your future in a number of ways and for a number of reasons. If convicted, you might risk losing custody of your children, losing jobs or job prospects, and even losing your freedom.

Florida statutes define aggravated assault as the intent to commit a felony with the use of or intent to use a deadly weapon. The accused must have intentionally and unlawfully threatened to do harm at the time the threat was made, creating a well-founded fear in the mind of the alleged victim, and making harm or intending to make harm with a deadly weapon.

In this brief article, a St. Petersburg aggravated assault lawyer with The Rickman Law Firm weighs in on a few of the reasons and ways that aggravated assault can impact your life. This is especially important to understand if you have been wrongfully accused, as you may be afraid to hire legal representation for fear of appearing guilty. A knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate these charges and understand the best defense available to you.

Mandatory Prison Sentences

For years, Florida’s notorious 10-20-Life law applied to a number of felonies, including murder, sexual battery, and kidnapping. In such extreme cases, it made sense that the State of Florida would want to enact stricter punishments. However, what judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys found was that minor offenses would require a mandatory prison sentence, regardless of extenuating circumstances, as was the case with a number of aggravated assault cases.

In 2016, things changed when Senate Bill 228 was passed, which removed the mandatory 20-year prison sentence for aggravated assault cases involving a firearm, and allowed judges to impose sentences that they deem fair and just. However, the accused must still defend against a third-degree felony charge punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. That means that even without a mandatory minimum sentence, you can still spend years behind bars if convicted. This can impact your life with everything from custody arrangements for your children to finding and keeping a stable job.

Financial Burden of Aggravated Assault

As previously mentioned, aggravated assault can carry steep fines depending on how many counts have been charged against you.. These fines may be as much as $5,000 per count. This may create significant financial debt for yourself and your family, creating stressful situations if you are hoping to save to purchase a home or pay off debts.

Permanent Damage to Your Record

Aggravated assault, if convicted, cannot be expunged or sealed from your record. That means that future employers or clients will be able to see that you have been convicted. Aggravated assault is qualified as a violent crime, so even if you only have made a threat and are found guilty, you will be facing the repercussions for years to come.

In order to defend yourself and protect your livelihood, family, and life from these charges, contact a St. Petersburg aggravated assault attorney with The Rickman Law Firm. We have years of experience working with cases just like yours and will be able to pursue all necessary evidence and witnesses to attempt to achieve a favorable outcome. Our attorneys will not only look into the event itself, but will also examine the arrest to determine if your rights were violated.

For a free consultation with a St. Petersburg aggravated assault lawyer, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

3 Ways to Protect Yourself in a Homicide Investigation

Being investigated or arrested in a homicide case can be one of the most catastrophic experiences that someone could face. Whether it is for vehicular manslaughter or murder, you may be worried that the state is utilizing all of its resources to frame you or charge you with something you didn’t do, especially when you have nothing to hide and did nothing wrong. Unfortunately, wrongful convictions occur often, and recent research found that more than half of all wrongful criminal convictions are caused by government misconduct. For this reason, it’s critical that you protect yourself during a homicide investigation of any kind.

In this brief article, a Tampa homicide defense lawyer with The Rickman Law Firm shares three ways to protect yourself against wrongful conviction in a homicide investigation.

1. Do Not Speak to Police Alone

If you are being investigated for a homicide of any kind, be it vehicular manslaughter or murder, you should not speak with police alone. The old television trope of police officers using intimidation tactics comes from some seed of truth. You may be coerced into confessing for a crime you did not commit, or told that you will be able to get a plea bargain that is not actually on the table.

The very best and most important way to protect yourself is to utilize your 5th amendment right protecting against self-incrimination and request that a Tampa homicide defense lawyer is present for all questioning.

2. Do Not Interfere with the Investigation

In an ongoing investigation, you may be tempted to interfere in a number of ways no matter how well meaning you are. Perhaps you want to talk to the detectives and find out what is going on, or you want to talk to witnesses to see what they know because you are acting in good faith and want to find out yourself. Do not do these things. This can lead to accusations of witness tampering or worse. Allow the police and your attorney to do their jobs, and even though your anxiety might get the best of you, do not contact witnesses or detectives who are investigating.

3. Hire an Experienced Attorney

We mentioned earlier that it is critical to not speak with detectives or investigators without your attorney present, but that leaves out the most important part: hiring an experienced attorney. Your attorney will help guide you through the legal process, but more importantly they will help you understand the best defense available to you. This might mean they discuss a strategy of defense utilizing:

  • Self-defense
  • Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law
  • Suppression of evidence
  • Supervening circumstances
  • And more.

A Tampa homicide defense attorney with The Rickman Law Firm will help you understand the best defense for your unique case. Your attorney and their team will also conduct a thorough investigation and will help you understand all of the factors that may be at play. They will also be present for any and all questioning by the police so that you do not have to go through your case alone and they will help make sure you are not coerced into a wrongful or false confession. And importantly, they will work with you to create a defense strategy. They have experience handling cases just like yours every day and will guide you every step of the way.

For a free consultation with a Tampa homicide defense attorney, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Can Manslaughter Charges be Expunged from your Record?

It is safe to say that facing manslaughter charges is one of the most distressing and unpleasant experiences imaginable, and the penalties can extend far beyond those handed down by the court. The repercussions can follow you for life, impacting your business and job prospects, family life, and more. With this in mind, it is no wonder that many people ask whether manslaughter charges can be expunged from your record.

In this brief article, a Tampa manslaughter defense lawyer with The Rickman Law Firm shares a few important details to understand about manslaughter charges and whether you could be forced to carry them for life, if convicted.

Types of Manslaughter

Before we can discuss whether you can get a manslaughter charge removed from your record, we must first address the types of manslaughter and the legal definition of manslaughter. In Florida, manslaughter is the act of killing without malice or forethought. There are three types of manslaughter:

  1. Voluntary Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person without premeditation. It is the type of killing where a person is provoked by a circumstance that causes them to react unreasonably due to the mental or emotional disturbance of a specific event. Like second degree murder, this is considered a crime of passion. An example of this would be killing someone for molesting a child.
  2. Involuntary Manslaughter is also the unlawful killing of another person without premeditation; however, the murder is due to recklessness, criminal activity, or negligence. An example of this would be killing someone while texting and driving.
  3. DUI Manslaughter is the unlawful direct or indirect killing of another person while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Can Manslaughter be Expunged or Sealed?

The short answer is that manslaughter cannot be expunged or sealed in Florida. This is because it is included in Florida’s list of serious offenses that cannot be sealed or expunged for any reason, unless you are found not-guilty.

What to Do if Charged with Manslaughter

Being charged with manslaughter sounds like something that would never happen to you, but in reality you may be charged with manslaughter due to an accident or through no fault of your own. If this is the case, it is crucial to hire an experienced Tampa manslaughter defense attorney who can help you navigate the best defense for your unique case and who can help you understand your legal rights from arrest through trial.

If you or a loved one are facing manslaughter charges, you don’t have to face them alone. Contact a Tampa manslaughter defense attorney with The Rickman Law Firm. We have years of experience working with cases just like yours and will be able to pursue all necessary evidence and witnesses to obtain a favorable outcome. Our attorneys will not only look into the event, but will also examine the arrest to determine if your rights were violated.

For a free consultation with a Tampa manslaughter defense attorney, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Common Reasons for Fraud Charges

In 2020, there were over 4.8 million complaints of fraud to the Federal Trade Commission, including identity theft. Of that number, at least 2.2 million people were charged with fraud in the United States. This is a major jump in both reports and charges of fraud from previous years, and the number is only climbing, which means that there is a good chance that you may stand accused of fraud even if you feel you are not guilty.

In this brief article, a fraud defense attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm shares a few of the most common types of fraud and what to do if you have been charged with fraud in Florida.

Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud

Identity theft is discussed in Chapter 817 of the Florida Statutes, but it may also carry federal charges. The general takeaway of this statute is that “Any person who willfully and without authorization fraudulently uses, or possesses with intent to fraudulently use, personal identification information concerning another person without first obtaining that person’s consent” is committing a felony.

The severity of the crime determines the severity of the punishment. They are as follows:

  • Fraud perpetrated is $5,000 or more, or the identity of 10 or more people is stolen: minimum three-year mandatory prison sentence
  • Fraud perpetrated is $50,000 or more, or the identity of 20 or more people is stolen: minimum five-year mandatory prison sentence
  • Fraud perpetrated is $100,000 or more, or the identity of 30 or more people is stolen: minimum 10-year prison sentence.

Chapter 817 of the Florida Statutes continues to define various identity theft laws and their respective penalties. A few examples include the theft of the identity of a deceased person, or the creation and use of a fictitious person.

You might be thinking “I didn’t steal someone’s identity, I just used their card to make a purchase.” But, in Florida that is the same thing as identity theft. Even if the person gave you verbal permission to use their card and then claims the card was stolen, you may be charged. It is always best to have written consent to make any purchases or charges on someone else’s behalf.

Payment Fraud or “Bounced Checks”

If you’ve ever “floated” or “bounced” checks, you may be charged with payment fraud. Sometimes, your intent might be good — for example, writing a check in the anticipation that you will be paid or have the funds before the person takes it to the bank or before it clears the bank. But this is still a form of fraud.

There are a few elements to know about payment fraud:

  • In Florida, the act of writing out checks from a closed account or that you know won’t be able to clear, also called “Void Checks,” is considered a 1st degree misdemeanor. If found guilty, you may receive a sentence of jail time up to a maximum of 1 year. You may also be fined a maximum of $1,000. However, if you wrote out a check(s) valued at $150 or more, you will receive Florida fraud charges of a 3rd degree misdemeanor that includes a jail time of 15 years maximum and maximum fines up to $10,000.
  • If you wrote a check out for the exchange of something valuable but then issued a stop payment on that check, you’ll face Florida fraud charges of a 2nd degree misdemeanor. A 2nd degree misdemeanor penalizes you with a maximum jail time of 60 days and a maximum fine of $500 unless the check(s) you stopped was valued at $150 or more. In this case, you will be charged with a 3rd degree felony, receiving jail time up to a maximum of 15 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Don’t Face Fraud Charges Alone

If you’re facing fraud charges, you may be tempted to represent yourself, especially when you know you are not guilty. However, that is a bad idea. Never face fraud charges alone. An experienced Tampa fraud defense lawyer will help you understand the best defense for your case. Contact The Rickman Law Firm today to learn the best way to handle your case.

For a free consultation with a fraud defense attorney in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

How to Reduce Assault and Battery Charges

Each year, out of every 1,000 assault and battery cases, 627 are reported to police and 255 reports lead to arrest. If you find yourself in the 255 per 1,000 people who have been arrested, you may be wondering if there is a way to reduce the charges of assault and battery being leveraged against you.

In this brief article, a Tampa assault and battery lawyer with The Rickman Law Firm shares three methods you may be able to use in order to reduce or eliminate assault and battery charges. Remember, the most important step to take when you have been accused of or charged with any crime is to hire an experienced attorney.

1. Plead to a Lesser Charge

If you’ve been charged with a simple assault, you may be able to plead to a lesser charge with the help of an assault and battery lawyer in Tampa, who will negotiate with the prosecutor. An example of a lesser charge would be disorderly conduct or public affray, especially if the incident was a shouting or shoving match or a scuffle between two equally matched people. For example, this may be an option if the fight was not serious.

In order to be able to plead to a lesser charge, the accused must have a mostly clean criminal record. This is not an option if the incident involved serious violence, family or domestic violence, or was an attack on a vulnerable person (for example, someone with a disability). Your attorney will discuss with you any and all plea bargains that are available in your specific case.

2. Attend a Diversion Program

In Tampa, you may be able to attend a diversion program in order to reduce or change the charges of assault and battery. These programs include:

  • Adult Pre-trial Arrest Diversion Program (APAD) – APAD is a diversion program offered by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) that is offered before a trial. This may be an option for those who are being arrested days or even weeks after the fact.
  • Misdemeanor Intervention Program (MIP) – If the charge is a misdemeanor, you may be eligible for the MIP. If this is the first offense, candidates of the MIP are given an opportunity or notice to appear in order to accept responsibility for their actions, seek rehabilitation, and divert their cases from the criminal court system. The MIP in Hillsborough County is administered and supervised by the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office for this judicial circuit. Eligibility requirements and approval for entry into the MIP program can be determined at the arraignment.
  • Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) – PTI is run by the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC). PTI gives first-time felony offenders the opportunity to avoid a conviction by diverting the case from the trial court process after an arrest. Defendants charged with a qualifying third degree felony may be approved for this program.

3. Hire an Experienced Attorney

The most common defense against an assault or battery charge, regardless of jurisdiction, is mutual consent. This defense establishes that both parties acted violently in the situation and that the attack was not one-sided. Self-defense, defense of others, and defense of property are other common defenses that can help reduce your punishment or eliminate it all together. However, none of these defenses will be easy or clear without the assistance of an experienced Tampa assault and battery attorney.

Contact The Rickman Law Firm to learn the best defense strategy for your assault and battery case, including whether you are a candidate for reducing charges or attending a diversion program.

For a free consultation with a Tampa assault and battery attorney, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

What to do if Wrongfully Accused of Stalking

In many cases, accusations of stalking result from a simple misunderstanding. Perhaps you are often in the same place at the same time as another person and it is misconstrued, or someone from a former relationship thinks you are following them. No matter the case, stalking is a serious problem and as many as 12% of women report being stalked during their lifetime, according to recent statistics.

In this brief article, a Tampa stalking defense lawyer with The Rickman Law Firm shares a few important things to know about stalking accusations and what to do if you have been wrongfully accused of stalking.

What is Stalking

Florida Statute Chapter 784 defines stalking as: “A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person…”

An example of this would be if you continually and willfully follow a coworker with whom you have had multiple altercations, especially if this is done maliciously. Stalking can also take the form of following a former lover and tracking their whereabouts, or even continually and maliciously stalking them online (cyberstalking). Cyberstalking is still relatively new, but is equally as serious as stalking offline in the real world.

To take stalking one step further, you can also be charged with aggravated stalking. The same statute defines aggravated stalking as: “A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person and makes a credible threat to that person commits the offense of aggravated stalking…”

Think of the same scenario mentioned before, wherein you have been caught willfully following a coworker around maliciously outside of work. If you have made a credible threat, such as threatening to harm their family, slash their tires, or fight them, you may be charged with aggravated stalking.

Aggravated stalking may also include stalking a person who has taken out a court ordered injunction against you (like a restraining order), be it for domestic violence, sexual violence, or repeated violence; as well as stalking of a person with whom you share a no-contact order. You may also be charged with aggravated stalking if the victim is 16 years of age or younger.

It should be noted that there are specific types of stalking, including cyberstalking, workplace stalking, and even celebrity stalking. However, the majority of stalking cases involve estranged spouses or partners.

What are the Penalties for Stalking

The penalties for stalking depend on whether you are being charged with aggravated stalking. Stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor which carries a punishment of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If stalking progresses to aggravated stalking, it is a third-degree felony with potential imprisonment of up to 5 years along with a $5,000 fine. This can become even higher if you have multiple charges of stalking.

What Should I Do If Accused of Stalking?

If you’ve been wrongfully accused of stalking you might worry that it’s their word against yours. This is why it’s so crucial to hire Tampa stalking lawyers with The Rickman Law Firm. We have years of experience working with cases just like yours and will be able to pursue all necessary evidence and witnesses to obtain a favorable outcome. Our attorneys will not only look into the event, but will also examine the arrest to determine if your rights were violated.

For a free consultation with a Tampa stalking defense lawyer, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Case Results

AGGRAVATED ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON CHARGE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR CHARGE

The Client was involved in an incident which resulted in the shooting of a family member and was being investigated by law enforcement. Attorney Anthony Rickman was with the Client immediately after the incident occurred
Show More

No Conviction for Racing Charge

Our Client was accused of racing from a stoplight at 56th Street and Fowler Avenue. The Judge assessed a fine and withheld adjudication so our client received no points on his driving record.
Show More

PINELLAS COUNTY DUI REDUCED TO RECKLESS DRIVING

The Client was arrested for DUI in Pinellas County after law enforcement located the Client at her residence hours after involvement in an alleged accident. Law enforcement claimed the Client appeared intoxicated and arrested her.
Show More