College Student Defense
As a former college student and a UF and UCF alumni, I understand the fear and anxiety that comes with being charged with a crime as a college student.
And that is why I want to help, because you deserve an aggressive attorney, who understand your situation, and who is willing to fight for you.
Why you need an Attorney
Most college students have never been in trouble before, or the offenses they are accused of are rather minor.
Unfortunately though, simply going into court and pleading guilty without the help of an attorney can result in a:
However, in many cases I can identify evidentiary problems, exculpatory information, or obtain affidavits from reputable witnesses. In doing so, I can persuade the prosecutor's office not to file formal charges, or to file lesser charges than you were arrested for and minimize the possible academic sanctions you could receive.
Permanent Criminal Record
Under Florida law, you can only seal or expunge a criminal offense one time. And this ability is further limited by the requirement that you never be adjudicated guilty for any criminal offense - even a petty misdemeanor or a criminal-traffic offense.
But frequently, students show up for court, are offered a fine and court costs, and then plead guilty or No Contest to petty crimes like Petit Theft, Criminal Mischief, Disorderly Conduct, or criminal-traffic crimes like Reckless Driving, or Driving While License Suspended.
However, many times a judge will Adjudicate you Guilty of the crime, even though you plead No Contest. As a result, the charge will always be on your criminal record and if you were to ever be charged with a more serious crime in the future, you would be ineligible to ever seal or expunge that charge - even if it was dismissed.
UCF Golden Rule Violation
The UCF Rules of Conduct, referred to as The Golden Rule, apply to all off campus conduct; including municipal, state, and federal criminal laws.
Golden Rule violations are handled separately from the underlying criminal cases and use the lower standard of Preponderance of the Evidence. As a result, pleading to a criminal offense precludes you from contesting the accusations in your student conduct hearing.
What if formal charges are filed?
Even if formal charges are filed, there is a good chance I can negotiate a resolution that will either result in your charges being dismissed or negotiate a resolution that will allow you to seal or expunge your criminal record in the future.
Below are examples of resolutions that can result in a positive resolution for you:
Pretrial Diversion is run by the State Attorney and is usually reserved for first time, nonviolent offenders. The diversion program is similar to probation, in that you must report once a month to a probation officer, undergo random drug testing, complete community service, and are required to refrain from being involved in any criminal activity.
If you successfully complete the program, the formal charges are dismissed and you can truthfully state you have never been convicted of a crime.
If your admission into Pretrial Diversion can not be obtained, the next best alternative, short of a trial, would be to negotiate with the trial division prosecutor. By emphasizing your lack of criminal history, I can usually obtain a resolution that results in minimal sanctions.
Most importantly, I can likely obtain a "Withholding of Adjudication;" which allows you to lawfully deny that you have ever been convicted of a criminal offense.
Jury Trial: When a plea is unacceptable
When all other legal defenses have been exhausted and you are unwilling to accept anything less than a dismissal, it is often necessary to present your case to a jury to prove your innocence.
Importantly, I conduct jury trials regularly and I have the experience to take your case to trial. I also welcome you to review the criminal case results I have obtained so that you can see the types cases I have tried and results I have obtained.
Contact UCF Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Hornsby
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.
The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.