Building a Successful Defense in an Assault Case
Ultimately, a successful defense in an assault or any other case must create a reasonable doubt as to the evidence. A criminal case doesn’t decide if the defendant “did it” or not. Rather, the outcome of a criminal case hinges on what the state can prove. The less evidence prosecutors have, and the stronger a defense is, the more likely a reasonable doubt becomes.
An effective defense usually prevents an assault charge from staining the defendant’s permanent record. If the judge doesn’t throw the case out of court on a procedural ground, a substantive defense often convinces prosecutors to offer favorable plea deals. These favorable deals include a reduction to ABC (assault by contact), which is basically a traffic ticket. Other remedies, like deferred disposition probation, may be available as well.
Prompt jail release enables a Tampa assault & battery lawyer to thoroughly evaluate a case, as outlined below. Defendants who are behind bars are often in such a hurry to “get it over with” that they accept the prosecutor’s first plea bargain offer, even if a Tampa criminal defense lawyer knows almost nothing about the case.
Furthermore, incarcerated people can only have limited contact with their lawyers. So, during an investigation, an attorney doesn’t have full access to one of the two people present at the time.
OR (own recognizance) release is usually unavailable if the defendant faces violent crime charges. Other jail release options are still available, including:
- Cash Bail: If Tom rents a house, puts down a security deposit, and returns the house in good order, the landlord refunds most of that deposit when Tom moves out. Likewise, if Tom gets arrested, posts cash bail, and complies with all bail conditions, the sheriff refunds most of that money when a Tampa criminal defense lawyer disposes of TOm’s case.
- Bail Bond: Even in a misdemeanor, cash bail could be over a thousand dollars. Most families don’t have that much cash on hand. So, they can borrow the money or, better yet, work with a bail bondsman. For about a 15 percent premium, a bail bondsman puts up financial security. Once again, the defendant must follow all conditions of release.
If bail is initially unavailable or unaffordable, an attorney usually appears at a bond reduction hearing. During this hearing, the judge must set a reasonable bail amount, given factors like the amount of evidence against the defendant, severity of the offense, amount the defendant can pay, and the defendant’s vocational, familial, and other connections to the community.
As mentioned, procedural and substantive defenses are usually available in criminal assault matters in Hillsborough County.
Fifth Amendment violations might be the most common procedural defense in assault cases. Before officers ask any questions, they must advise defendants of their Fifth Amendment rights. This warning must be administered in a language the defendant understands.
Speaking of understanding, many people don’t understand the full extent of the Fifth Amendment’s protections. This provision includes the right to physical silence. Police officers cannot force defendants to surrender cellphone passwords or appear in lineups.
Attacking the credibility of the complaining witness is usually the best substantive defense. Many alleged victims have mixed motives in these cases. They often want the defendant to get in trouble more than anything else. Additionally, most alleged victims were drinking at the time of the incident. Alcohol clouds memory and has other effects.
Reach Out to a Diligent Hillsborough County Attorney
A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. Virtual, home, and jail visits are available.